DIR: Usharay Darra in Upper Dir is a little known valley bestowed with natural beauty and pleasant weather during the summers.
In fact, it is one of the many largely unfrequented tourist spots waiting to be explored and enjoyed in Upper Dir. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s tourism potential is huge, but the dilapidated condition of the roads and lack of infrastructure in most tourist destinations are major hurdles that keep many tourists away.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has said it intended to develop tourism by identifying new destinations, but this would take time and require resources.
During a recent visit to Usharay Darra, one found that it has up to 20 villages located on both sides of the river which flows between the tall mountains.
Some of the big villages include Jabar, Katain, Almas, Tarpatar, Batal, Usharay and Samskoot. The road leading to Usharay Darra is relatively in a better condition unlike many other roads that provide access to tourist spots.
The journey to the valley starts from Darora in Upper Dir. It takes over three hours to drive to the far end of the beautiful valley beside the swift flowing river Usharay which finally joins the river Panjkora. Panj means five as river Panjkora receives waters from five khwars (streams), including Kohistan, Barawal, Usharay, Niag and Jandool.
The high mountains with clouds always hovering over its peaks and in the sky, greenery, pleasant weather and sound of the gushing river water adds to the beauty of Usharay valley.
The valley also has a lake located in the Saidgai area, commonly known as Saidgai Dhand. It is situated on top of the mountain and encircled by glaciers and green pastures. The visitors have to travel for six hours on foot to reach the lake due to lack of a road.
The people of Usharay Darra are healthy and hospitable. They are friendly with tourists and welcome strangers.
The members of Sultankhel tribe mostly inhabit the Usharay valley.
Growing crops such as wheat and corn, and fruits including apples, grapes, nuts, pears are the mainstay of agriculture. Many people have landed government jobs while others have gone to different parts of the country and abroad in search of livelihood.
In the past, the government constructed two canals, one high in the mountains and the other along the lone road, to irrigate the land in Usharay Darra.
The people have also built small power houses to generate electricity for domestic consumption. A number of small power houses, some developed by the non-governmental organisations and others by the local community on self-help basis, can be seen in various parts of not only Usharay Darra but also in other parts of Upper Dir. Usharay Darra also shares boundary with Matta in Swat. However, one has to walk for three hours to reach from Matta to commute between the two places as there is no road connecting these places. Waris Khan, a resident of Tarpatar village, said that the government should construct a road in the mountains to provide easy access to people of the area to Matta.The departments concerned must highlight the natural beauty of Usharay Darra and Saidgai Dhand to promote tourism in the area, Waris Khan added.